Surgical Treatment for Cancer


There are many different surgical techniques used to diagnose and manage cancer. Collectively, these treatments are known as surgical oncology. Surgical oncologists are surgeons who specialize in treating specific types of cancer.

Services & Treatment

Surgical options for treating cancer include:

Diagnostic surgery: This is done to determine whether a mass is cancerous. Tissue is removed and tested to confirm whether there are cancer cells. Sometimes this is done by inserting a needle into the tumor and drawing out a tissue sample (called fine needle aspiration). In other cases, you may need a surgical lymph node biopsy, which involves removing an entire node and testing it to determine if cancer has spread.

Supportive surgery: Sometimes surgery is required before administering another cancer treatment. For example, you may need to have a port inserted beneath your skin through which you receive chemotherapy.

Staging surgery: This procedure can determine if your cancer has spread and, if so, which body parts are affected.

Curative surgery: This is used to partially or completely remove cancerous tumors.

Palliative surgery: If you have advanced cancer, these procedures can ease pain and improve your quality of life.

Restorative surgery: These procedures are performed after cancer treatment to return your body to its normal appearance. One common type of restorative surgery is breast reconstruction.

Preventive surgery: In this proactive surgery, your doctor will remove suspicious or precancerous tissue before it can become malignant. It can also be used for patients at high risk for developing cancer.

Robotic-assisted surgery: This is a type of surgery that tends to be less invasive than traditional surgery. This minimally invasive surgery doesn’t require a large open incision. That means you’ll likely experience less pain, less damage to healthy tissue, less blood loss and less scarring. Because recovery tends to be quicker, you’ll have a shorter hospital stay and a lower risk of infection. Aurora Health Care was the first health care system in Wisconsin to use the da Vinci® Surgical System, a minimally invasive robotic surgery tool.

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